A Sleep Disorder is a medical disorder affecting sleep patterns and/or behaviors during sleep. Sleep disorders involve any difficulties related to sleeping, including difficulty falling or staying asleep, falling asleep at inappropriate times, excessive total sleep time, or abnormal behaviors associated with sleep. They can cause irregularities that may manifest as symptoms of either a physical, mental or emotional nature.
More than 100 different disorders of sleeping and waking have been identified and include the following general categories:
- Problems with falling and staying asleep (insomnia)
- Problems with staying awake (excessive daytime sleepiness)
- Problems with sticking to a regular sleep schedule (sleep rhythm problem)
- Unusual behaviors during sleep (sleep walking or other activity during sleep)
The most frequent sleep complaint is Insomnia and includes any combination of difficulty with falling asleep or staying asleep. Episodes may come and go, last for a few weeks, or be longer lasting. Insomnia is a complaint, not a diagnosis. There are a variety of disorders that can produce the symptoms of insomnia. For that reason, consultation with one of our sleep professionals is recommended if the problem lasts for more than several weeks.
As well as problems with getting to sleep or staying asleep, sleep disorders also include those disorders associated with staying awake. Excessive daytime sleepiness may result from repeated interruptions during sleep in disorders such as Obstructive Sleep Apnea, Periodic Limb Movements during sleep or in neurological disorders such as Narcolepsy and Idiopathic Hypersomnia.
When to contact a doctor
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if lack of sleep, too much sleep, or unusual sleep behaviors are interfering with your daily life.
While many disorders require only an office visit, others may require a Sleep Study or studies in order to determine a diagnosis. These studies require an overnight visit at a sleep clinic and may lead to the resolution of any number of known sleep disorders.